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ANIMAL, rockin w/ pics (long)

Photos are on my blog: http://gourmetpigs.blogspot.com/2008/...

I tried out Animal last week after reading a Chowhound thread on it. Still unsignaged, we went for a 7.15 reservation and when we got there, only two other tables were filled. But surprisingly it was still loud, probably because 1) there was a table of six men drinking and chatting and 2) what's with the wall, tile floors, and hardwood tables and chairs, harsh sounds tend to reverberate.

At any rate, let's move on to the food.
For appetizers we started with the Pork Ribs with bread and rocket salad:The ribs were kind of fatty, but otherwise they were perfect! Tender meats falling off the bones ... the sauce was also amazing!
I've had the Niman Ranch ribs at Slanted Door but these ribs here surpass Slanted Door's by a biiig margin.

The bread was soaked in olive oil. Besides the arugula, it was definitely not really a healthy plate :P

We also had the Marinated leeks, spinach, poached eggs, serena and bacon:
I really like eggs, and poached eggs, even for dinner. There was a lot of bacon

I had the quail fry for my entree (unfortunately the picture is blurry, I'm so sorry!
)The sauce was good, but it was too much with the quail fry - together they become too salty. But it was perfect for the grits and greens.
Oh, and great thick bacon. Again, great with the other sides, but for me, the fried quail legs should be eaten in isolation to get the full, unadulterated flavor - and not get salt overdose.

My friend got the monkfish with beans
The monkfish was also pretty good, juicy and the broth is good. But, I was too preoccupied with my quail fry :P If I had to choose ... well no question about it, quail all the way.

One of the desserts we got was what the waitress recommended,
Who would've thought to put bacon on a chocolate cake? (I must say this restaurant puts bacon on a lot of things :P ) but it works surprisingly well. The bacon bits give both crunchiness and a bit of saltiness that go well with the rich, sweet chocolate.

The other dessert we got was the White peach and Mulberry Crisp.
What is the difference between a crisp and a cobbler anyway? I'm not really sure yet, I'm going to have to look this up. But anyway, the crust of this crisp was what I would expect from a cobbler (but I may be completely wrong), but it was very good nonetheless. The combination of the white peach and mulberry went very well, and it was perfect since it would otherwise be hard to decide which one to get! I was missing my ice cream with this though - don't know maybe I'm just too used to it? Pies/cobblers/etc seem to always be too rich and sweet to me not to cut with some cold vanilla ice cream?

My final judgment? I thought all the food was great. Creative and interesting ideas with solid preparation. Reasonable prices, good service. I would definitely, definitely be back, despite the loudness (the only bad point).

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  1. sounds good. do they have a website? i'd love to look over the menu but couldn't fine one. what were the prices like?

    2 Replies
    1. re: dotrat

      burumun had the website link for Animal at the end of his (her?) blog review:

      http://www.animalrestaurant.com/

      Unfortunately it is under construction and has no content as yet.

      1. re: Servorg

        Her O:-)

        I took a picture of part of the menu, which I can put up later when I get home!
        The appetizers were in the range of ~$12-15 if I remember correctly
        and the entrees were about $25, and the desserts were $8
        Don't quote me though, but that's what I remember.
        I thought it was pretty reasonable :)

    2. I agree with Burumun - the food here is creative and just plain great. I went here for dinner last Friday on our way to Wicked and had one of the best meals in a very long time. There were 3 memorable dishes that I can still taste and long for.
      1. The ribs were succulent. So tasty and crunchy on the outside but tender on the inside. The bread salad with heirloom tomatoes was a nice side.
      2. The petit basque. It comes in a small baking dish with onions and a type of salami underneath the melty ooey goodness. The dish is served with 4 big crispy crunchy pieces of bread. Such a simple rustic dish but perfect in every way. Let the cheese cool or suffer burned roof of mouth like me.
      3. Nectarine and blueberry crisp. The best dessert I've had in quite a while. It far surpasses Cynthia's cobbler even though the crisp topping is much different, similar concept. The fruit was sweet and well balanced by the crust. Piping hot served with a dollop of creme fraiche.

      Apps - $8 to $12. They have fried hominy for $5 too
      Main - mid $20s
      Dessert - $8 or $9
      Wine - very inexpensive most bottles were in the $30 range

      1. My dad and I went last week and had a great dinner. We also had the ribs, quail and the monkfish. The monkfish was one of the best fish dishes I have had in a long time. I thought that the quail was really tasty. Our server directed us to some nice wine and we got great service. I would really recommend it.

        1. I stopped in the other night for a couple apps and some wine. I had the petit basque with chorizzo - killer gooey goodness. The show stopper was the biscuit and gravy with fois gras. AMAZING. it was suprisingly sweet, but in a very, very good way. An interesting and successful twist on a a country breakfast classic. I had it with a glass of riesling and it was one of those rare food moments when everything is just perfect, a symbiotic match where the sum is greater than the pieces. A nice woman dining next to me offered me a bit of her pork rib and it too was really good, very tender with a nice crust. Def. one of the more memorable eats lately.

          6 Replies
          1. re: rednyellow

            To be honest, the biscuit/fois dish was one of the most revolting things I've ever paid money for the displeasure of eating. Kinda like taking one's fois with a cup full of sugar. It was really revolting. The ribs were fine, but way underseasoned and unmemorable otherwise. The bacon chocolate cake was dry- the bacon is literally bacon-bits pressed on top. I personally, don't get the hype...

            1. re: newtcat

              I guess our taste buds are opposites of one another. I thought the biscuit/fois was absolutely fantastic.

              1. re: newtcat

                I had the biscuit with foie at Animal tonight, and didn't find it too sweet at all. I don't take sugar in anything and tend to avoid it, finding most desserts overwhelmingly sickly. This dish has a wonderfully rich sausage gravy that is peppery and savory with a slight hint of sweetness. A far cry from the usual syrupy sauces that frequently accompany foie gras.

                And I can't see how the dessert could possibly be considered dry. It isn't a cake, it's a fudgy ganache on a thin crispy wafer with creamy frosting and bacon bits on top. Ganache doesn't dry out because of its high fat content. I loved it.

                Also tried the pork belly and the quail fry, both fabulous. The tangy kimchee was the perfect counterfoil to the fattiness of the belly and the quail was so comforting. I look forward to ordering this when the weather cools down, it seems like the perfect dish for a winter night.

              2. re: rednyellow

                *ears perk up* biscuit? Gravy? Fois gras?

                Hmmm, Is the biscuit flaky? Is it BIG? Would they give me two biscuits without doubling anything else? Was it sweet or savory?

                1. re: Diana

                  normal sized biscuit, not super flakey, had a good crumb. It is an appetizer and very rich. I think it was $22. It is sweet and savory, the sweetness is not cloying or even like a desert, just a very rich taste. It is unique to me.

                  1. re: Diana

                    Not big or flaky, more cakey and buried under chunky sausage gravy and a nice slab of well-seared foie.

                    Any modifications or substitutions are "politely declined", as the menu clearly states, so no doubling up on the biscuits. More power to them, the food is fantastic.

                2. I couldn't disagree more with the rave. Except for the loud part. It is very very loud.

                  They take great pride in their wine list. And serve their red wines ice cold. Not chilled. Cold. Colder than the ice water. "because that's how the chef likes it" Bottle of champagne (maybe it was a cava) was served at room temperature.

                  I had the opportunity to go quite a few times after they opened because it was walking distance from a theater where I was working ...and late night food choices were animal and canters. The first night they bragged about how the menu will change every night. Well, over a month and a half, most things stayed on the menu...occassionally in a slightly altered form. Such as different beans in the tomato/bean stew.

                  The tomato/bean stew was actually quite good. I ordered it about three nights after they opened, right in the middle of a heat wave. the word 'stew' isn't on the menu, so given the time of year (never mind the 100 degree heat) I expected a salad. Nope, a hot cheesy stew. Would have been excellent on a cold rainy winter day. No idea what the thought process was behind serving this dish in that kind of weather.

                  With a name like 'animal' you wouldn't expect a whole lot of vegetarian choices and you'd be right. the tomato stew was the only thing for a while, then a salad with a lot of fairly gloppy dressing. and no, they won't make any changes or leave anything out of a dish. "because that's the way the chef wants it". If I go to the French Laundry, I'm willing to put myself in the chef's hands...there are chefs who have earned the right. These chefs haven't. I'm not talking about making a whole new dish, just leave the bacon off the asparagus. Nope. No will do.

                  So, I stuck to desserts most nights, while avoiding red wines. They print their menus anew everynight (cause remember, they change all the dishes every night). and one night I order a rhubarb strawberry crisp, just like I'd ordered the night before and they bring me a nectarine blueberry crisp, just like they'd served me two weeks earlier. Frankly, I wondered if they'd made extra and frozen them, cause it seemed mighty odd to me that they would go back to an old fruit combination at all, and forget to change their menu listing too.

                  But you know, the place is filled with young pretty people.

                  1. I went on a Monday night, which pretty much solves the sound problem (unless they've since picked up more steam), and I thought the portions, prices and pork were just right. I'd go back.